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Different flavours of freedom

India and South Korea share their Independence Day on August 15. Here are a handful of dishes to mark the occasion

Durri Bhalla   |   Published 15.08.21, 02:13 AM

Both India and Korea became democracies on August 15 of different years. While India is celebrating 74 years of independence from British rule, Korea is celebrating 73 years (in both South and North Korea) of commemorating its victory over Japan’s rule of occupation and colonial rule of Korea. While we are celebrating in both countries, the purpose of this article is to celebrate the fascinating cuisines that have made both countries popular for their food and rare delicacies. While the two cuisines are fairly different in their composition, the one major similarity is the use of condiments. The Koreans use kimchi, whereas Indian often use achaar. Also, the way the meats are marinated and veggies stewed is often similar to traditional preparations of the Northeastern states of India.

To celebrate India, I have shown few of the recipes that were adopted by the British and were made by our Indian bawarchis of those times to suit the Western palate. These recipes are still found on the menus of many a restaurant across India.



Chicken dak bungalow has its roots in the British era. During the British Raj, dak bungalows, or rest houses, were built for officials and other British travellers. Each dak bungalow had an expert bawarchi who, in a jiffy, would make meals for the officials with Indian ingredients, but would also make sure it suited their palate.


• Chicken: 1, cut into medium size pieces

• Eggs (boiled)

• Potatoes: 3, peel and cut in half

• Onions: 2 large, sliced finely

• Green chillies: 4, split (or according to taste)

• Turmeric powder: ½tsp

• Red chilli powder: 1tsp (or according to taste)

• Sugar: 1tsp

• Salt: To taste

• Mustard oil: 3tbsp

• Garam masala powder: ½tsp

• Chopped coriander leaves: 1tbsp

• Bay leaf: 1

• Cardamoms: 3 cloves

• Cinnamon: 1-inch piece

• Black peppercorns: 5

For marination

• Whisked curd: ½ cup

• Ginger paste: 1tbsp

• Garlic paste: 1tbsp

• Lemon juice: 1tbsp

• Coriander powder: 1tbsp

• Cumin powder: 1tsp


• Marinate the chicken with the ingredients above.

• Mix turmeric and salt and smear on the eggs and potatoes.

• Heat oil and slightly fry the boiled eggs. Keep aside.

• Then fry the potatoes till golden. Keep aside.

• In the same oil add the whole garam masala. Then add the onions and saute until light brown.

• Next add the slit green chillies, turmeric, red chilli powder, the marinated chicken and the potatoes. Mix well.

• Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.

• Then add salt and cup of hot water. Cover and cook further till the chicken is almost done.

• Add sugar and garam masala and cover and cook the chicken till it is fully cooked. Add fried eggs and chopped coriander leaves when serving.


The chicken country captain was created by the Indian naval chefs during the British Raj and continues to be served in the Indian Navy ships. So it has literally sailed all over the world.


• Chicken: 1kg, cut into pieces

• Oil: 4tbsp

• Onions: 2 large, chopped

• Ginger paste: 1tbsp

• Garlic paste: 1tbsp

• Red chilli powder: 2tsp

• Coriander powder: 1tbsp

• Cumin powder: 2tsp

• Tomato paste: ¾ cup

• Vinegar: 3tbsp

• Cream: ½ cup

• Sugar: 1tsp


• Heat oil and saute onions till light brown. Add ginger, garlic paste, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and saute for 1 minute. Then add chicken and salt. Saute on high heat for 4 minutes. Reduce flame and add tomato paste/puree and cook for 4 minutes. Then add vinegar and saute till oil specks appear.

• Remove the pan from heat and add the cream. Then put back on heat and let simmer till it obtains a consistency of ketchup.

• Garnish with sauteed potatoes, boiled eggs, and any sauteed vegetables you prefer. Serve with dinner rolls, herbed rice, etc.


The story goes that during the British rule, when officials would travel by train, they would get food prepared mostly by Bengali cooks. Mutton curry, which was a favourite of the senior officials, was served only in the first class compartments and modified to make it less spicy by adding coconut and yoghurt. This dish became so popular that it was given its own official name — railway mutton curry.


• Mutton: 1kg, cut into pieces

• Coconut milk: ½ cup

• Green chilli paste: 1tsp

• Garlic paste: 2tsp

• Ginger paste: 2tsp

• Papaya: 3tsp, grated

• Tamarind juice: 1tbsp

• Curry leaves: 24

• Potatoes: 2 large, cut into

•-inch size chunks

• Onions: 1½ cup chopped (4 onions)

• Salt: To taste

• Turmeric powder: 1tsp

• Red chilli powder: 1-2tsp, depending how you want it

• Coriander powder: 1tsp

• Cumin powder: 1tsp


• Marinate the mutton with ginger, garlic, green chillies, salt and grated papaya. Keep for several hours.

• In a pot add 4tbsp of pure ghee and when hot add the onions and saute till nice golden brown but not burned.

• Now add the meat and saute on high flame for about 4 minutes. This searing of meat is very important. Now add the curry leaves, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Mix well and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

• Now add 4 cups water. Cook first on high flame and then lower the flame, cover and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes add the potatoes and cook till mutton and potatoes are cooked fully. (In case you want to pressure cook the meat, then cook for 4 whistles. Release pressure and add the potatoes and cook for 2 whistles.)

• Now add the tamarind juice. After a minute add coconut milk. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Do not add coconut milk on high flame. The milk will curdle.

• Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or a crusty bread.

The Korean craze has caught the imagination of millennials all over the world — from music to beauty products to food. In India itself there are now hundreds of standalone Korean restaurants. Indians in Korea comprise those who migrated from India as well as their locally-born descendants. Naturally, they brought their cuisine along with them. Here are four dishes that are somewhat similar to Indian dishes. For instance, kimchi is like our achaar. Korean dumplings resemble gujjiya, gamja-jeon is like our aloo tikki and yakgwa is similar to imarti.


Kimchi is considered the national dish of Korea and is a staple in Korean cuisine. It is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables like chinese cabbage, radish, spring onions, etc.


• Chinese or Napa cabbage: 1, cut into 3-inch pieces

• Salt: For brining

• Red pepper flakes: ¾ cup

• Fish sauce: ¼ cup

• Maple syrup (or sugar syrup): 1tbsp

• Vegetable stock or chicken stock: 1/3 cup

• For kimchi paste

• Water: 2 cups

• White flour: ¼ cup

• Vegetables for the kimchi

• Green spring onions: 5-6 stalks cut into 3-4 inch pieces

• Carrot: 1, cut into batons or jullienned

• Radish: 1 big, cut into thin batons

• Chives: 6-8 stalks cut into 2-inch pieces

• For the blend

• Pear: ½

• Onion: ½

• Garlic: 8 cloves

• Fresh ginger: 1tbsp

• Kimchi (starch) paste: 1 ladle


• In a big bowl put the cabbage and add salt and keep aside for 1 hour. Then wash under running water. Squeeze out extra water very gently. Keep aside.

• To make kimchi paste (a very important part of kimchi preparation) in a bowl put 1 cup water and ¼ cup white flour and mix well. In a pan on medium flame boil the paste adding 1 more cup of water till it becomes thick. Stir continuously during this process. It should be smooth and not lumpy. Keep aside to cool.

• In a big bowl put all the vegetables, blended paste, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, maple syrup (or sugar syrup) and vegetable or chicken stock.

• Gently mix every well. Keep aside in the refrigerator for sometime before serving it.


Bibimbap is a filling and very nutritious dish found in restaurants, street markets and food courts. In one bowl you have the rice, protein and vegetables — a totally satisfying bowl of goodness.


• For the chicken bulgogi

• Chicken: 500g, cut into slices (not too thin)

• Light soya sauce: 3tbsp

• Sesame oil: 1tbsp

• Pear: 1 medium size, grated (an important fruit for this preparation)

• Garlic: 5 cloves paste

• Minced ginger: 1tsp

• Brown sugar: 1tbsp

• Salt: To taste

• Pepper: To taste

• For sauteeing

• Any neutral oil: 3tbsp

• Sesame oil: 1tbsp

• Light soya sauce: 1tbsp

• Sesame seeds: ½tbsp

• Spinach: 250g, blanched in water, drained and chopped not very fine

• Carrots: 2, jullienned

• Mushrooms: 200g, finely sliced

• Garlic: 6 cloves, finely chopped

• Rice: 4 cups, cooked

• Eggs: 4 (1 per person, fried with a runny yolk just before serving)

• Gochujang paste: To taste

• For a substitute for gochujang

• Red chilli powder or flakes: 2tbsp

• Brown sugar: ½tsp

• Sesame oil: ½tbsp

• Crushed dry chillies: 1tsp

• Water: 2tbsp


• For the chicken bulgogi, marinate the chicken with the above ingredients for at least one hour.

• For a substitute for gochujang, mix all the ingredients very well and adjust seasoning to your taste.

• Heat a skillet with 2tbsp of neutral oil and 1tbsp of sesame oil. Then add soya sauce and sesame seeds and fry well. Now take two-thirds of this mix and keep aside for cooking the chicken.

• Heat the skillet with the remaining oil mix and add spinach. Add a little salt and saute for a minute. Remove and keep aside.

• Now add the mushrooms to the skillet and saute on medium heat adding a pinch of salt. Remove and keep aside.

• In the same skillet, fry the jullienned carrots and keep aside.

• Put the 2/3 of the oil we kept aside and cook the chicken on high flame till it becomes brown and tender.

• For assembling

• In a serving bowl add a cup of hot cooked rice. Top it with a portion of chicken, spinach, mushrooms and carrots. Place a fried egg on top. Serve this with a teaspoon of gochujang or (its substitute).

• The way to eat this wonderful dish is to mix everything egg, rice, etc., with the runny yolk, Gochujang and all.


This Korean ramen soup is a version of the traditional Korean ramyeon. This soup has bold Korean flavours and ramen noodles. Not the instant ones. Here I am making with chicken but you can use pork, beef or make it vegetarian.


• Chicken stock: 4 cups for the broth (this is a must)

• Gochujang: 4tsp, mix with little chicken stock and pepper flakes

• Pepper flakes: 1tsp

• Chilli flakes: 1tsp

• Fish sauce: 2tsp

• Chicken thighs: 4, without skin

• Korean ramen noodles: 150g, or how much you would like

• Boiled eggs: The yolk should be a little soft

• Mushrooms: sliced and sauteed

• Kimchi (recipe given)


• In a pot bring the chicken stock to a boil then simmer over low heat. Add the chicken and poach for 20 minutes. When tender and cooked remove and pull the chicken off the bones into chunks.

• Now strain the stock and put it back in the pot. Add the Gochujang paste and fish sauce. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Broth is ready.

• Boil the Noodles and drain.

• For assembling, place noodles in a bowl. Put chicken on top. Add broth. Top with green onions, mushrooms, kimchi and eggs cut lengthwise.


Korean fried chicken, a typical late-night snack served with beer, takes on the quintessential American fast food with its own unique flavour.

INGREDIENTS (for four servings)

• Boneless chicken thighs: 500g

• Onion: 1, grated

• Garlic: 6 cloves, minced

• Black pepper: 1tsp

• White flour: ½ cup

• Corn starch: ¾ cup

• Sugar: 1tsp

• Water: As required

• Oil: For frying

• Salt: To taste

• For the sauce

• Sesame seeds: 2tsp, roasted

• Garlic: 1tsp, minced

• Honey: 2tbsp

• Soya sauce: 4tbsp

• Gochujang: 1tsp (optional)

• Sesame oil: 1tsp


• In a big bowl add chicken, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well to coat all the pieces and let marinate for a couple of hours.

• In a bowl add cornstarch, flour, sugar, black pepper and salt. Add enough water to make a smooth thick batter.

• Add chicken pieces to the batter and coat well.

• Heat oil and fry the chicken until golden brown. Remove on absorbent paper. (You can have the chicken now if you like. It will be crunchy and yummy.)

• In a pan add ¼ cup water, honey, soya sauce, garlic, sesame oil and Gochujang. Heat on low flame. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 4-5 minutes. The sauce will coat the chicken. When serving sprinkle sesame seeds.

Durri Bhalla is a cookery expert and author of Indian Bohra Cuisine and Inner Truth To Good Health And Weight Loss. You can find her at @DurriBhallaKitchen on Instagram, Durri’s Kitchen on Facebook and Durri Bhalla on YouTube

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